Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Juxtaposition shows obvious truth

I pulled up one of my email newsletters today and read the top two stories, related to the radio broadcasting biz. Here they are, exactly as written:

Public radio hits all-time high.
CPB-supported stations are reaching more listeners than ever. Following a 3% increase last year, the stations climbed another 3% in the Spring 2008 survey to 28,744,600 listeners (12+) in an average week. RRC president Joanne Church says excitement over the election helped drive the increase.

Reach steady, but TSL slips.
Despite a growing number of media choices, 92.5% of Americans 12+ listen to the radio in an average week. The bad news is time spent listening by this cume, on average, was just under 18 hours per week, roughly 45 minutes less than a year ago. More in today's Inside Radio.

If you are not in the broadcasting industry, you may not appreciate the irony of those two back-to-back stories. The Corporation for Public Broadcasting has always been noted for their well done content and programming that attracts habitual listeners. Many people make sure to turn on the radio to hear "A Prarie Home Companion," "All Things Considered," and "Click and Clack." They have also been praised for their use of sound. Sound is a major part of anything you hear on their air. Hmmm. Clever use of sound on an aural medium? What a concept! So it should come as no surprise that their listenership is growing.

Commercial radio is losing listenership, as noted in the second story. TSL means "time spent listening." Radio continues to honk its horn about 93% of Americans listening to radio in a week but the real measure of listenership is how LONG they listen. (That 93% is based on people who only have to listen for at least five minutes in a week to get their usage counted.) And obviously it is dropping like George Bush's approval ratings.

45 minutes less TSL in a year is monumental! And the NPR spokesperson is being modest. The interest in the election should have impacted commercial radio as well.

Sea change, folks. Sea change.

Don Keith N4KC

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